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The Irreconcilables

Photo of Robert La Follette

When President Woodrow Wilson presented his negotiated Treaty of Versailles to the Senate in 1919, the agreement faced immediate Senate opposition. At issue was a controversial proposal establishing a League of Nations to assure peace through collective action. In particular, Article X of the League’s proposed covenant required each participating nation to “respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members.” Some senators sought to amend the treaty through reservations, but one group of senators–“The Irreconcilables”–opposed the treaty in any form. Led by William Borah of Idaho, the group also included Wisconsin’s Robert La Follette and California’s Hiram Johnson.